Jun 22, 2018

Read Time 3 min

How to Effectively Deal with a Bottleneck in Your Customer’s Journey


bubbles floating from a bottle

A bottleneck is when there is a point in your processes that slows or even stops a given workflow. This usually occurs when workloads arrive too quickly for a team to be able to handle. The inefficiencies brought about by the bottleneck often create costly delays for the company.

Identifying a Bottleneck

The first step to being able to identify a bottleneck is mapping out your ideal customer journey. Without knowing what the major milestones should be, you will have no way of knowing if they are behind or not in the journey.

Of course, your key milestones will depend on your business but here are some examples within a typical customer journey:

  • Implementation
  • Onboarding
  • Training
  • Engagement
  • Product Adoption
  • Renewal
  • Loyalty
  • Advocacy

Once you have mapped out your customer journey you can then be on the lookout for signs that a customer might be falling behind in completion of one of these milestones. Here are some symptoms that might signal a bottleneck in your customer’s journey.:

  • Long wait times to hear back from your main point of contact
  • Backlog of task assignments and action items from previous meetings
  • Consistently missed project deadline due dates that keep getting pushed
  • Sense of high stress levels among members of the customer’s team

Categorization of a Bottleneck

It is possible to classify the majority of the bottlenecks that you will encounter into one or more of these specific categories.

Time Based:

  • Long Term Bottlenecks– Issues that occur often. For example, a regular report is always late because creating the report is highly manual and time consuming.
  • Short Term Bottlenecks– Temporary in nature. For example, a team member is out sick and is the only person who is able to complete the work and is a hold up to the entire process.

Type Based:

  • People Bottlenecks: Time it takes someone to perform an action. For example, a person taking longer than they should to perform a given action.
  • System Bottlenecks: Process related slowdowns. For example, the system that provides a given report that is required to move to the next step has a process error.

Handling a Bottleneck

After you have been able to identify a bottleneck and the categorization that it falls into, you can then determine your appropriate course of action to help move through the roadblock to success.

We mainly breakdown our plans of action by the type of bottleneck. Here’s some suggestions for dealing with each type.

People Bottleneck:

  • Take a look at usage data to get a better understanding of how your customer is using your products (or maybe even not using).
  • Calculate the customer’s overall health score to assess the severity of their lack of progress. The variables that you can use include event data, fields from your CRM or other sources like customer support tickets.
  • Set up alerts to proactively stay on top of progress and engagements with an account or a specific customer and receive warning notifications in real-time.

System Bottleneck:

  • Automate tasks and communications to alleviate repetitive and manual processes that occur.
  • Utilize customer success playbooks to automatically track your customer’s tasks and achievements that will drive them through each phase of the lifecycle in an organized and efficient manner.
  • Monitor customer journey analytics to access in-depth insights about your accounts and their progress or their stalling points.

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Fighting Churn is a newsletter of inspiration, ideas and news on customer success, churn, renewal and other stuff and is curated by ChurnZero.


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